We are huge fans of the Rodecaster Pro, and it's something that has become a permanent part of our studio and mobile workflow. However, if you cannot drop that kind of cash, you were left with few, not very great options until now.
The new RODE Connect app is the perfect solution for the mobile professional or amateur podcaster looking for multiple channels that can all be recorded at once. The free app lets you connect up to four RODE NT-USB Mini mics and record your system audio and a virtual input like Skype etc, allowing you to record six channels of audio in total. So now you can create a professional-sounding podcast with just your laptop, and some RODE mics.
The issue with connecting multiple USB mics has been solved with a simple solution, with the only caveat being that you must use a specific RODE USB mic. The software works exclusively with the NT-USB Mini mics from RODE (more RODE mic models will work in future updates), so you will have to invest in at least one of these mics (MSRP $99). If you do not have this mic, the software will not work—a small price to pay for such powerful software being distributed for free.
The NT-USB Mini mic sounds quite good on its own but does have a secret onboard weapon that will level up the sound quality quite a bit. The Connect software allows you access to the mics onboard processing features comprised of Noise Gate, Compressor, APHEX Exciter, and APHEX Big Bottom. These features were designed to enhance the performance and sound of your voice and work incredibly well. The same features are also built into the Rodecaster Pro, so it's pretty impressive that they put this on board a $99 mic.
Learn More About the NT-USB's onboard processing features HERE.
Each channel has its own fader, so you can get the mix just right before hitting record or even adjust while you are recording. The mics can be easily assigned to a channel by dragging the color-coded mic icon to a track. To make things even easier, you can also buy an inexpensive ID kit that comes with four different color caps and wire clips, so you know who is who on the mixer with a quick visual.
Suppose you don't use all four channels with mics. In that case, you can assign the remaining channels to System and Virtual inputs, meaning the audio will come from your system audio (basically any sound coming from your computer) or via a specific app. For example, in the audio below, we use one channel for a mic and another channel for the Djay Pro AI application to record a mix. One thing to note is that there is only one Virtual channel option, meaning you can only record one specific app at a time. So if, for example, you wanted to have someone on your podcast via Zoom and play some music from a source like Spotify, it might make more sense to route it all to the System channel. If you use System, make sure that any apps that make noise or have audible alerts, etc., are either muted or quit, as you will hear ALL the system sounds.
While you are making your recording, you can use the handy marker function to identify places that might need an edit, some sort of addition, etc. Once you are finished, Connect gives you the option to either export your tracks separately or as one stereo file, which is crucial if you need to fix up some audio on a specific track like a Skype caller that needs a bit of clean up.
All in all, what you are getting with RODE Connect is a stripped-down version of the Rodecaster Pro. If you are a Pro user, Connect is quite familiar as far as the UI and overall functionality are concerned. We expect to see some updates on Connect relatively soon, and it might be an excellent guess to expect a more robust version of the software that will be a paid version or subscription model. Knowing RODE, something is probably already in the works.
One of the nice things about the proprietary mic solution is that the NT-USB Mini is ideal for this software. The mic is simple, has robust processing features for improving your audio and a headphone port so guests can monitor themselves.
If you are thinking about streaming live, no problem. Rode Connect features a dedicated output channel to pipe the entire mix through OBS or similar software easily.
Pro Tip - If you are recording multiple people in a smaller room, you run the risk of getting crosstalk, meaning that your guest's voices might turn up on your mic as well. If this happens, you will need to export the mix as individual tracks and put them in Garage Band or any DAW to get a clean mix. If you export it as a stereo file, this vocal duplication will create an echo effect and sound no bueno.
Summary: If you are starting to get into podcasting and want to ease your way into it without making any significant investments, the RODE Connect + NT-USB Mini mic solution is about as good as it gets. Suppose you are a pro or a more experienced amateur. In that case, there is still enough functionality to make Connect a viable option if you don't want to port a piece of hardware like the Rodecaster Pro to another location. Still, for pro users, Connect might be too limiting for everyday use.
You can download Rode Connect here, and the NT-USB Mini is available.